A 20 hours travel took us from Santa Elena de Uairen, Venezuela, to Manaus, Brazil: first a collective taxi or “Por Puesto” to the border, where we got our exit stamp, then we walked a few hundred meters to the Brazilian side to fill out immigration documents. At this point we needed a treat and checked out the famous “Churrascaria de la Frontera”, a Brazilian All-You-Can-Eat restaurant. It is so popular and so good value that travelers who stay in Santa Helena take a taxi across the border to fill up for 4 Euros.
We immediately found another “Por Puesto” to Boa Vista, 2.5 hours away. Once we had put our backpacks in the car, the driver told us he will now drive off looking for other passengers. A bit worried we waited, but soon he returned with two young ladies and we took off to Boa Vista.
At the bus station in Boa Vista, we immediately found a bus for Manaus and got ready for another 12 hours ride … We had looked up the road from Boa Vista to Manaus on the map and it seemed a straight line so we expected to breeze right through. Well, we did not, the street must be full of pot holes, which we never saw since we were driving through the night but we certainly felt them. This road from Boa Vista to Manaus was built not too long ago and was much disputed. It is going right through Yanomani territory and they fiercely resisted this road being built. Lots of construction workers died from poisoned arrows, so the army moved in and the project was finished. But the protest was not in vain, busses can only drive this road during the night and cars are not allowed to stop.
Also our expectations concerning the temperature inside the bus were not met. After spending hours in artic temperatures on busses in Venezuela, we brought tons of clothes, only to find out that Brazilian bus drivers use an elaborate technique of turning on – turning off the Air-Conditioning to keep the temperature pleasant. After 20 hours of traveling for less than 1.000 km we simply could not wait to get out of the bus.
Once in Manaus, we tried Pensao Sulista, in which all the nicer rooms were booked but they took us across the street to Hotel Sulista: the room looked like a prison cell, no windows, but this also meant quietness, which we have come to appreciate after spending weeks in Venezuela’s budget hotels. And the rooms had air-conditioning, which is definitely necessary in Manaus. We were the only customers and even more surprised to find our hotel surrounded by many, many others. It did not take long to find out we where in the middle of in the red-light district. This turned out to be a big advantage because there were always people on the street, even late at night…